Sunday, May 2, 2010


I'm back at it again. The creative juices are flowing. You would think that to be a good thing if you didn't know me. But I know me. I create when I'm hurting. That's the pattern. I've learned from my work in mental health that depressed people stop taking their medication when their medication is working. Why? Because when the medicine works, they feel better. When they feel better, they don't think they need the medicine anymore. So they stop taking it. But what happens next is pretty predictable. They get worse because they haven't taken the medicine that makes them better. Then they feel bad again and remember that they need the medicine. Then they start over. That's me and my art. My art is my antidepressant. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel alive. When I let life go so long that I feel like I'm just going through the motions, my art kicks in and I start creating again.

I realize that what I would tell my therapy clients is that if the medicine helps, keep taking it. By that reasoning, I should probably learn to sustain my art even in good times. But I don't. When things are going well, I go off and live my life as a counselor. Right now I'm, a psychologist in training. Its funny. At the beginning of every course I take, we go through this meet and greet session. Everyone introduces themselves and talks about what they've done and what they want to do. There is always this conflict within me. I want to say, "I'm Rueben. I'm an artist. I've done...(insert artistic accomplishments)..and I hope to one day publish a book of photography. I also hope to release another record one day. But I don't. I say, "I'm Rueben. I've been in social services for 12 years......" But it hurts my heart to say it. Every time. And when enough time passes and life gets me down, I go back to what I know best.

There's a song I love called "How the heart approaches what it yearns". Its so true. The heart pulls itself closest to what it wants most. The mind can play its tricks and try to convince us of what makes most sense. The heart wants what it wants. So when you see me around, if I look like I need a hug, just do me a favor. Tell me to take my meds. I'll know what you mean.

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